Solstice at the end of the world

Celebrating solstice has become very popular again in the western world. On June 21st, thousands of people on the northern hemisphere celebrate the longest day and enjoying the longest sunshine of the year (if visible). But at the same time on the southern hemisphere, people celebrate the shortest day of the year and the return of the sun, especially in Antarctica. But how do they celebrate in the remote stations of the Antarctic continent?

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Northern Sea Route still not preferred shipping route

A new study on the commercial opportunities and challenges of Arctic shipping by researchers at Copenhagen Business School’s Maritime Division finds that the navigation season on the Northern Sea Route (NSR) will remain too short for investments in ice-class vessels to be economically viable in the coming decades. Only after the year 2035 may the Arctic shipping route along Russia’s northern coast became competitive for some ships of comparable size.

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Surprising new business opportunities for Greenland

In recent years, mackerel have appeared in Greenland waters, and in their wake new and economically important fisheries have emerged. The first mackerel were caught in Greenland in 2011. And already three years later, in 2014, mackerel fishing had grown to make up entire 23 percent of the Greenlandic export earnings which is 78,000 tons of mackerel.

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New gardener for AWI “Hausgarten”

Scientists from the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI) are setting out with the research vessel Polarstern towards Spitsbergen, to use newly developed equipment in the Arctic Ocean. Autonomous instruments on the seabed, in the water column and in the air will complement the long-term measurements of the deep-sea research group. In this way researchers can analyse the climatic changes in the Arctic and their impact on the fauna in the future with higher temporal and spatial resolution.

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Diaries of Alfred Wegener’s first expedition published

Alfred Wegener is considered one of the most prominent and most influential European polar researchers. Especially his expeditions to Greenland brought him fame even amongst the Danish community. Now, his diaries of his first Greenland expedition 1906 – 08 have been published. A specialty of the publication are the 70 hand-drawn sketches which were digitally re-mastered with great care. Dr. Reinhard Krause added explanatory comments to the publication.

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Methane from the Arctic Ocean might not reach the atmosphere

When talking about greenhouse gases, people usually talk about carbon dioxide. However, methane is considered much more potent as a greenhouse gas despite much lower levels in the atmosphere. The debate about the origin of increased levels of methane in the atmosphere has triggered a number of research projects. Now, the Norwegian Center for Arctic Gas Hydrate, Environment and Climate has found evidence that only very little of the gas seeping from the seabed of the Arctic Ocean also reaches the atmosphere.

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First successful midwinter airdrop to Australian Antarctic station

Delivering cargo to Antarctic stations is a tricky business with a high degree of logistics behind it. Most of the time, goods and parts are delivered by ship or by airplane during the Southern summer season. During the winter time, stations are usually on their own. The Australian Antarctic Division in cooperation with the Royal Australian Airforce had begun successfully to use C-17A cargo planes to deliver goods to the largest station Casey in East Antarctica. Now, they also successfully completed the first midwinter airdrop of material in Antarctica.

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Antarctic Treaty parties ban mining from Antarctica

On their annual meeting in Santiago de Chile, the 29 countries of the Antarctic Treaty unanimously decided to keep the ban on mining activities in the Antarctic. The resolution was initiated by the USA to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty.

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More grolars or pizzlies could roam the Arctic in the future

A couple of weeks ago in Arviat, Nunavut (CA), a local Inuit was out to hunt polar bears. However, what he had hunted was not an ordinary polar bear but a polar bear – grizzly hybrid. This is the third confirmed sighting of this hybrid and scientists now debate over the future of polar bears in the face of climate change.

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New US icebreaker debate cools down and takes a big step

Like a ship moving through pack ice at the top of the world, the task of securing funding for a new U.S. icebreaker has been arduous, lonely and at times maddeningly slow. Sometimes, it’s only by looking backward that progress can be measured, by seeing the obstacles that came before in a trail behind you. This week, Alaska’s congressional delegation got to see a big piece of ice crack and move aside, as Sen. Lisa Murkowski secured an amendment to a Homeland Security and defense spending bill that would direct $1 billion for the construction of a heavy icebreaker to augment America’s meager fleet of polar ships.

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